This word essential is getting tossed around a lot. Businesses and people/workers are being categorized as essential or non-essential. There seems, in some cases, to be an ongoing debate as to what and who is to be considered essential. People being sent home after being told they're non-essential and essential workers braving against an invisible foe to show up where they're needed.
Which is why it's the word-of-the-week in my Quick Sunday Read. So, I decided to take a deeper dive into it's larger meaning.
While there are several common and obvious things we all consider to be vital - healthcare facilities, food, the internet, hand sanitizer and masks, to name a few - what's essential to one person may be entirely non-essential to another. Golf? Books? Art? Parks? So, who's to decide?
On a much deeper level than toilet paper, hand sanitizer or coffee (one of my surface necessities!), this got me thinking about how this collective pause - while we have a lot of time on our hands - is providing a golden opportunity to examine what is truly essential for a life of high value. In essence, what is the heart of our existence?
So, what is essential?
Essential. What a loaded word. It's an adjective meaning an act, idea or process that's "absolutely necessary." Or "extremely important." And, it's a noun meaning "a basic, indispensable thing that is a necessity." Vital. Crucial. Key. Needed. Requisite. Fundamental element. A must. Coffee. Kidding.
"What world is there for us where our essential nature - and its right to live free - is one and the same?" – Guy Finley, author
I've been thinking a lot about this question:
What do I consider to be essential, vital, the heart of my existence, the fuel of my momentum, in my life from now on?
It's a big question. And, one that requires some of the stillness that's been bestowed on us by forces outside of our control. It's a good question to pose to the household if you're quarantined with another or with your family. So, so good, not only for your own self-reflection but also for a deep meaningful discussion with loved ones.
"Imagination is as vital to any advance in science as learning and precision are essential for starting points." – Percival Lowell, scientist
Some essentials seem obvious in this time but are still worth their weight, like drinking water, having a home in which to feel safe, good food and exercise to nourish our bodies. Sleep.
But, what are equally important as those, are as French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry put it, "The essential is invisible to the eyes." Like intention, love, and prayer. And, our list of essentials is fluid, often changing and evolving based on what is most needed for our wellbeing. So many are dealing with illness right now and that is what is in front of them so that is what drives some of the essentials, for sure. And, is why what we consider essential shifts and evolves.
I've been playing with this all week. Here are some that bubbled to the surface for me as you perhaps consider some of your own:
Routine. After nearly a month of working from home and physically and social distancing, I've simplified my necessities and find that resting into routines gives me ease and comfort. Routines normalize things.
Sleep, 8 hours a night, and rest; meditation and journaling; a good plant-based diet; yoga; coffee and chocolate; lots of water (I need to constantly remind myself); a good skincare regime; making my bed every morning; comfy clothes and great socks. You may ask how chocolate figures in as routine; it just does. A little of the good stuff every day makes me happy.
Connection. When I chose the word Connect as my 2020 word of the year, who knew what an even more profound principle it would become? It's become a saving grace for everyone, and an essential for so many, even as we must resort to virtual connections for now.
Regularly connecting with family members and friends, singularly and as a group, is what is breaking the isolation and truly sustaining so many of us. It is for me. I've set the intention to connect and reconnect with more people I hold dear or want to get to know better.
And, connection to self is front and center in a way that's unexpected and new and for some, unfamiliar.
"Know the true definition of yourself, that is essential. Then, when you know your definition, flee from it." – Rumi
Self-Reflection. I'm finding that my morning meditation and prayers are more deeply connected to my God and to my higher wisdom. And, to my intuition. It is opening up new ways of thinking and expanding channels of perception in my life and community. And, I put pen to paper to stream that new level of consciousness. All kinds of things bubble up.
Self-reflection is key for growth and for integrating the lessons that are presenting themselves right now. I feel like we're on the precipice of an opening, a better way of being, a rebirth for the planet as well as for all of us. We can pave new pathways. My self-reflection is essential for moving forward in a grounded, purposeful way.
My Pet. My little goofy cat Maggie is providing so much love and a needed distraction. We are for each other, actually. For a while she was walking around with a thought bubble over her head, "Is that woman still here?" But, now we're in a groove. I'll probably bring another little feline into the house to join the family soon. I just saw a story yesterday that a shelter somewhere is out of animals for the first time ever because so many people are adopting pets right now. How wonderful is that?
Words. I have a love affair with words and now even more so. While I'm speaking fewer words because I'm spending so much time alone, I'm cognizant of the words I'm thinking, speaking and writing. What's essential about words right now is in using them intentionally and effectively.
I sat down virtually with empowerment coach and teacher, Andrea Quinn, the creator of The Quinn Essentials, a set of applicable tools with which to live your most empowered life. One of the tools is to "Empower Your Word." Andrea says, "All of us are living the life we're talking about. Everything is vibration. Thoughts are vibration. Words are vibration. You create with your words whether you're aware of it or not. The words you say to yourself and to the world manifest the life you have. And, if each of us were more aware and responsible with what we're saying we would understand the power our words have in creating for ourselves and the world around us."
Creativity. It's my phoenix. I have a short attention span right now, often feeling a tad restless with the unknowing and the extended alone time. But, scheduled creativity, writing, brainstorming, it keeps me fresh. Rising. Expanding. Being. Creating. It's my essential essential.
Knowledge. As in reading, learning, discovering. From ancient sources like the stoic philosophers and from the current knowledgable experts and thought leaders. I follow Ryan Holiday, the best selling author of several books, currently "Stillness is the Key." He publishes a reading list of suggested books that will expand your deeper knowledge. I'm very slowly making my way through it. Now's a good time. Support your local bookstores if you can. #SaveIndieBookstores
Intentions. The biggest thing this essential provides is presence of mind. Setting intentions keeps us on course. Keeps meaning front and center. Maintaining a sense of productivity and efficiency. And, sharing our intentions with a trusted group, like an accountability group, helps keep us focused. I'm so grateful for my weekly accountability group.
Kindness. This essential is on all of my lists. I try to instill it in everything I do, even while dealing with those who are frayed, frustrated and really angry right now. I'm frustrated and angry about much of it too. But, you can be kind at the same time. And, kindness is service, checking in with and offering to help those who need it. I'm so encouraged by so many stories of human kindness now.
Love. An extension of kindness. And, it's everywhere. We are resolute, kind and loving beings at our core. It's an innate essential and likely on everyone's list.
Adaptability. It's been so inspiring to see how people and so many companies are adapting to our current circumstances. we are indeed adaptable creatures.
Play. Humor and laughter are so healing and are true equalizers. I'm on several text streams where we send hilarious memes that bring levity and laughter to all of us. Schedule Zoom parties. Play family games. Watch comedies. Take time for play. It's essential for wellbeing.
Nature. I took a socially distanced walk with a friend and we both remarked at the color of the sky. A bluer blue than we've seen in Los Angeles, ever. What's beautiful about nature, when we take time to be in it, is that it's so nourishing. It's oxygen. It's life's continuing all around us. It's birth and rebirth. It's hope.
So, those are some of the essentials for my wellbeing.
What do you find essential in your life? It's a good question and now's a good time to sit with the question and ponder the answers. Toss some in the comments if you feel like it.